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It seems Liverpool are destined to lose playmaker Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona next summer, according to latest reports across Europe. The Reds spent much of the most recent transfer window fending off advances from Camp Nou as Coutinho became a top target for the Liga giants.
Liverpool rejected the Brazil international’s transfer request and snubbed an offer of £118m from Barcelona as manager Jurgen Klopp refused to sell him in August.
While Liverpool are struggling in the Premier League, Coutinho has done reasonably well amidst the Barca saga. Klopp succeeded in keeping Coutinho, who has scored 2 goals this season, creating 14 chances and one assist.
Coutinho has been a spectacular player since signing for the Reds in 2013. He is a player who has bloomed, who has become the focal point of attack in Klopp’s side. The Brazilian has produced innumerable moments of genius in front of the Kop and has also left Klopp scratching his head in disbelief at times.
However, the Brazilian, according to many is deemed to replace midfield maestro Andreas Iniesta in Barcelona. Despite Iniesta signing a lifetime Barca contract, the veteran has entered his twilight years and is not going to play consistently next season or the season after.
It is understood Barcelona will come back with an improved offer, estimated to be around £130m, which would leave Klopp in a complicated situation. If the German sanctions the Coutinho deal, he will have a large chunk of money to get fresh players.
After an afternoon to forget at Wembley, where Tottenham mauled Liverpool 4-1, once again, Klopp understood where his team’s real weakness lies. For all the concern about missed chances and blunt attacking options, it is still the defensive shape that is causing problem above all.
So, here are two quality players Liverpool can buy with the Coutinho money, assuimg he leaves for Barcelona next summer.
Liverpool have conceded 16 goals at this stage of the season – higher than any Liverpool team since 1964. Klopp looked frustrated after the Spurs game, and why won’t he?
Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk has been the name on everybody’s lips as far as defensive reinforcements go. The Reds have had a recent history of raiding Southampton- Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane and the retired Rickie Lambert.
Liverpool came close to signing Van Dijk in summer, only to be forced into an apology for an illegal approach for the classy defender. Having missed out on Van Dijk’s signing in the summer, Klopp’s options at centre-back are worryingly limited.
However, the Merseysiders should plan to re-investigate the possibility of signing the Dutchman next summer. In Van Dijk, Klopp will finally have a sought-after defender capable of fixing the sloppy defence. The former Celtic defender can inarguably partner Liverpool’s best defender Joel Matip, while Ragnar Klaven, Joe Gomez and error-strewn Lovren can act as back-ups.
Having signed a new contract last summer until 2022, Southampton could now regard even a fee of £50m or £60m as insufficient for Van Dijk, but most importantly, one has to wait and watch if the Saints are ready to sell the centre-back.
West Ham are currently struggling in the Premier League, with manager Slaven Bilic under huge pressure. However, after the departure of skillful and exciting playmaker Dimitri Payet last season, one player who could follow the suit is Manuel Lanzini.
Lanzini has already stepped into the void that Payet created and could be an enticing option to step into Coutinho’s boots at Anfield. The West Ham midfielder is tenacious, sleek, jet-heeled and above all, has an eye for goal.
The Argentine neither possesses the star quality that Coutinho has, nor does he boast Champions League experience. But would be able to play the role of the entertainer.
Lanzini would arguably be the like to like replacement for Coutinho, and being Premier League-proven will only add to his value. He is one of West Ham’s valuable assets and Liverpool would certainly need to break their bank to sign him.